Marcel Van (1928-1959) was a Vietnamese religious redemptorist. Guided by Saint Teresa of Lisieux with whom he conversed, Van lived all his life carrying the love of Christ to those around him. He found his joy in doing the will of God in little things and chose to transform suffering into joy. Van's beatification process is underway so that the Church can proclaim him blessed and then a saint.
Joachim Nguyen Tân Van was born on March 15th, 1928 in Ngam Giao, Vietnam. His family was Catholic and Van grew up there until the age of 7. His mother then led him to the parish of Huu Bang where he wanted to prepare to become a priest. Unfortunately, Van was subjected to violence and ill-treatment until 1941. At the age of 14, he entered the minor seminary of Lang Son. It is there that he read Story of a Soul and discovered Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. In 1942, Van heard Thérèse speak to him for the first time as he walked on a hill. A unique relationship would then be born with this saint, who made herself his big sister and begins to teach him all about her spirituality of the “little way”. Van saw his intimate relationship with Jesus deepen rapidly, and he was called to “turn suffering into joy.” Though he had dreamed of being a priest from an early age, Van learned with sorrow that he was called to another mission. Saint Thérèse announced to him: “You are called to become the hidden apostle of the love that will pray for priests and clergy. ». In 1944, Van became a monk at the Redemptorist convent in Hanoi and was given the name of Brother Marcel. His vocation then appeared to him clearly, and with immense joy, he carrieed out all his tasks with love and in the company of Jesus. Christ entrusted him with the task of praying for France, a country he did not love until then, and announced to him: "The reign of my love will leave France." When the war broke out in 1954, Vietnam was cut in half, in the north, the communist regime persecuted Christians, who were forced to flee to the south. Van chose to join a convent in the north so that a faithful presence to Jesus would remain there. Quickly arrested and sentenced to hard labor, Van was imprisoned in a camp. One day, he tried to escape from it to report the Eucharist to his companions. He was caught and locked up in a dungeon. Van died shortly after from exhaustion and illness on July 10, 1959, at the age of 31. The cause of beatification was opened in 1997 by the diocese of Belley-Ars and led by Mrs. Anne de Blaÿ, president of the "Friends of Van" association. Marcel Van intercedes for priests and for children who have suffered a lot.
Father Antonio Boucher, a Canadian Redemptorist, was Van's spiritual father. At his request, Van wrote his autobiography. Afterwards, Father Boucher collected Van's writings and translated them. Thanks to his work, all the writings have been carefully preserved and his thoughts, prayers, conferences with Jesus, Mary and little Thérèse, correspondence, poems, etc. are available. All these works reveal how from his childhood, Jesus took special care to educate the young Van, and how he was able to be shaped by Jesus. Van thus became an image of Jesus, bringing love to his brothers, in the heart of the most painful years of Vietnam.
Lord Jesus, have compassion for France,
deign to embrace her in Your love and show her all your tenderness.
Filled with love for you,
let her help to make you loved by all the nations of the earth.
O love of Jesus, we pledge here to remain faithful to you forever and to work with an ardent heart to spread your Kingdom throughout the universe.
This prayer was dictated by Jesus on November 14, 1945 to Marcel Van, and he said to him: “Little child of my Love, listen, I will dictate a prayer to you, and I want the French people to recite it to me. O my child, tell the French that this prayer is the very one I want to hear from them. It came out of my heart burning with love, and I want the French to be the only ones to recite it. As for you, my child, I want you to recite it too, but you will also recite it in French.”
Van, you who were the hidden apostle of Love, so humble and so small,
Van, you to whom God entrusted the mission of turning suffering into happiness,
Van, you who lived in trust and filial tenderness with Jesus and Mary,
Van, you who told us that "God is Father and the Father is Love",
Van, you who became Thérèse's spiritual little brother,
Join us in our trials and be our support.
Through the grace we ask of you (say the intention),
if this is the will of the Lord, give us to be strengthened in faith, hope and love throughout our life journey.
Lord, now let the faithful, who pray to you with your servant Van, see the efficacy of his intercession in answering their request, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Our Father, Hail Mary
Through her “little way”, Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus guided Van and quickly brought him to high spiritual summits. You should also learn about Saint Thérèse and let yourself be led by her.